Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Jose Is Loving Life In Indonesia
He was the first Spaniard to play in Thailand. And Indonesia. And Jordan. For a guy who started his career in Atletico Madrid's C and B teams Jose Pedrosa Galan is now making a pretty mean fist of his career here in Asia and while results may not be going the way of Persela so far this season, five losses in their opening five games, the midfielder is confident the corner will soon be turned.
Galan was playing in Thailand for Chainat when the call first came to come to Indonesia as he takes up the story. 'A Brazilian/Spanish coach called me and offer me 2 years contract with a really nice project ahead. They just had promoted to first division but they were ambitious and with a style of game what they tried to play they convinced me to sign. On that time I got also an offer from Persijap Jepara but the fact this coach told me I was going to be his key player for trying to play same " FC Barcelona or Spanish style"!'
The club was Pro Duta and the coach was Roberto Bianchi. Now Pro Duta aren't the biggest club in Indonesia. They are a private affair who have switched cities in their search for a home town, moving from Bandung to Sleman to Cirebon to Medan, failing to develop roots anywhere. For one schooled in Spanish football I asked Galan how he found Indonesian football.
'The culture is awesome, I really love this country since I put my feet on it. Indonesian people is so friendly and kind, and supporters, one of the best of Asia and probably in the world. I love the passion and admiration of how they follow football.'
After ending his time with Pro Duta Galan was off on his travels again, playing for clubs in Austria, Jordan, Cyprus and Romania before Indonesia called him back for a second time. Why? 'I think that once you live in this country. Then if you leave it, you will miss it and that's exactly what happened to me. I love to play with full stadiums and with supporters which like this sport so much.'
Things haven't started well on the pitch now he is back in Indonesia with Persela but Galan says he feels the team has been unlucky in a number of areas. 'I don't really like to find excuses but I have to say we have been so unlucky in some games.
'Like in our debut against Gresik or the match in Jakarta we didn't deserve to lose. even our last game against Persipura we had many chances specially the first half...the referees also had some bad decisions against us like the penalty in Jakarta to Dendy...it was so clear...
'Our fixture also its being very rough...2 games away ( Makassar and Persija) then a game at home against in my opinion one of the strongest team on the league ( Persipura) and now we have another 2 games away of our stadium ( Semen Padang and Bali)... but I trust on we will be able to change this situation in the future. I and my teammates we ll give our best, because Persela supporters really deserve it.'
Off the field Galan has been settling in nicely in to life in Surabaya, he commutes to Lamongan, and is gradually improving his Indonesian language skills. He was surprised when I told him there used to be a bit of a Spanish speaking community in Indonesia's second city. 'And where are they now? because I've never met someone who can speak Spanish yet!' Mind, I was thinking back to when I lived there and Persebaya had a few players from South America.
Galan is of course the first Spanish player to play in Indonesia but this year has seen quite a few turn up. 'I recommend Mossi ( who played with me in Jordan and for Atletico de Madrid B), but unfortunatley he is not in Indonesia anymore...it's a pity because he is a great person and good player as well...I also spoke with Kiko Insa about it, and I recommended them my agents, I know also Pablo Rodriguez, the only one who is playing here but I don't contact with is Belencoso, but I hope to meet him soon. So right now we are four Spanish playing here.'
Without the siesta and paella I wondered how easily it is for Spanish players to venture overseas and Galan admits he doesn't always find it easy. He also makes the point it takes time for foreign players to adapt to a new country and a new country and feels clubs and fans should not be so demanding on new arrivals.
'I miss of course first of all my family, my girlfriend and my friends, but also the Spanish food. And about football the way and the style most of the teams play and the organization and professionalism of the vast majority of the clubs.
'Here in Asia....there is not much patience with players, specially with foreigners. It's important to know that when a player has just arrived to a new country, to a new team, with different weather, training conditions, football style, different food, different language...everybody needs a time of adaptation...but sometimes here people don't think about these important details, and they expect you give the 100% immediately you arrive.'
Compatriot Belencoso no doubt would have some sympathy with those words as he has struggled to win over the Persib fans since his move there earlier this year. He has yet to score in five games and Persib moved quickly to sign Sergio van Dijk though whether he will be a replacement or a partner for the Spanish striker remains to be seen.
Does Galan have any advise for a Spanish player considering an offer to play in Indonesia? 'I would say to him that he must be mentally strong, here when you are foreigner they expect things from you, so you have to play with heart ( with spirit or semangat as you usually say) and give your best in every training and match.'
'They have still a long journey for improving the facilities, the training and specially the football pitches and training grounds. I put you an example, I played 2 weeks ago at Utama Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, the atmosphere was brilliant, but such a great atmosphere with more than 50.000 spectators shouldn't be played in a ground in such bad conditions were players can not shows their best skills...it's important to understand that if the Indonesian football wants to keep improving...The football would have more quality if the training and stadium fields will be taken care of .'
For all the ups and downs football experiences, Galan remains positive about being in Indonesia. 'To play in Indonesia is one of the best things I've ever did on my long professional career.'